Recanati Business School of Tel Aviv University, The Manufacturers Association of Israel, and the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC), a joint center of the Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, are releasing the results of their fifth annual survey of Israeli multinational enterprises (MNEs) today. The survey is part of the Emerging Market Global Players (EMGP) project, a long-term study of the rapid global expansion of MNEs from emerging markets. The results released today focus on data for the year 2011.

As shown by foreign sales, foreign employment, number of foreign affiliates, as well as foreign assets, the cross-border business activities of Israel’s top 20 MNEs continued to rise in 2011, a year characterized by the ongoing global economic crisis. Foreign assets exceeded US$ 18 billion in 2011, an increase of about 14% over the previous year. In terms of geographic distribution, the operations of the top MNEs continued to be concentrated in Europe and North America, though their presence in Asia has continued to rise. The top MNEs’ holdings of foreign assets varied widely, ranging from over US$ 5.3 billion to US$ 27 million. Business conglomerates accounted for a high proportion of foreign as well as total assets of the 20 top MNEs. Some of these conglomerates are essentially investment companies, covering a wide range of related and unrelated businesses, while others concentrate on a few related activities. Given the reputation of Israel as a “high tech” country, the industrial distribution of the top 20 is more diversified than might be expected. In addition to several conglomerates (Israel Corporation, Elco Holdings, and IDB Holdings), the top 20 was headed by knowledge-intensive companies (e.g., Teva, a pharmaceutical company, and Ormat Technologies, a designer, constructor and operator of environmentally friendly power plants). Smaller, high tech companies, producing computer-based hardware, software and business services, constituted the largest group in terms of numbers. Traditional industries such as plastics, food and clothing continued to figure prominently as well.

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